A lot of our global business is conducted in English. So, there’s a strong chance you may have to learn how to negotiate using it.

Fortunately, there are a number of key phrases, expressions and words that can help you effectively communicate when doing business and making deals with other professionals.

Yet, whether you’re a business professional or not, learning how to negotiate can be useful in a number of different situations e.g. with family or friends, colleagues or even when buying a house.

Let’s look at some useful expressions to do this, as well as some tips and activities to help you be an effective negotiator.


Building a rapport

Firstly, you may want to consider making small talk with the other person at the beginning of the meeting. This will help you to build up a rapport with the other person and generally create a positive atmosphere. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Welcome to…

  • Did you have a good journey?

  • Is this your first visit to…?

  • What’s the weather like in…?

People generally like to do business with people they have a good relationship with. By starting off on the right foot, they’ll be more likely to continue to do business with you in the future.


Stating your position or proposal

Once both sides are feeling comfortable and relaxed, you can go ahead and start making your proposals. In most cases you’ll have prepared these before the meeting, so you’ll usually know what issues you’d like to negotiate. Try these phrases to to help you express your ideas:

  • What we are looking for is…

  • Our main concern is…

  • There are two main areas that we would like to discuss…

  • We’d like to propose that…

Following this, the other person will most likely agree or disagree with you and then state their position.



After listening to the other side’s point of view, you have two options: to agree or disagree. If you’d like to agree with the person, you could say:

  • I agree with you on that point.

  • You have a strong point there.

  • That sounds great to us.

  • I am with you on that.

If you agree, that’s great! You can then close the deal and move forward with the business plan.


Disagreeing politely

However, if you do not agree with the position put forward by the other side, you may want to consider disagreeing. There are a number of ways to say that you are not on the same page, but these should not be hostile. Good ways to express disagreement politely are:

  • I understand where you’re coming from, however,…

  • I can’t quite agree with you on that.

  • I’m afraid we have some reservations on that point.

  • I’m afraid I had something different in mind.

Keeping it polite will ensure that you are diplomatic and maintain good relations.


Concluding comments

To close the negotiation process you should clarify and conclude before closing the deal. For instance, you can say:

  • Let’s look at the points we agree on.

  • Shall we try to sum up the main points of our discussion?

  • Have I left anything out?

  • Let’s just confirm the details, then.

This is a great opportunity for you to make sure that both parties have covered everything and a chance to ask further questions.

Closing the deal

Finally, once you’ve reached a mutual understanding and both parties are in agreement, it’s time to close the deal. Some useful phrases you can use are:

  • I’m willing to work with that.

  • We agree to these terms.

  • I’m satisfied with this decision.

  • I think we should get this in writing.

In some countries, it’s also common practice to shake hands with the other person as a symbolic gesture to express that you’re in agreement and will move forward as discussed.


Tips for negotiating in English

Aside from knowing which expressions and phrases to use when negotiating, here are some tips you can take on board for a successful meeting.

  • Write down some key expressions beforehand. We know speaking in English can be nerve-wracking. To help you remember what to say, you might want to write down some key expressions before you go into the meeting. This way, they’ll be more likely to stay in your mind when you’re making the negotiations.

  • Be polite and respectful. It’s very important to be polite, respectful and friendly when doing business. Not only may this help your negotiation go better, but it may encourage the other person to want to work with you again in the future.

  • Stay calm. Staying calm, although challenging, is important to help you speak clearly and get your point across. If you suffer from nerves, then you could try some simple breathing exercises before you go into the meeting.

If you’re interested in learning more about key expressions, phrases and vocabulary in business English, then head over to our blog.

Don’t forget it’s also not too late to sign up to one of our Business English courses. We have in-person or online courses available, and choose from group or individual classes.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Starting off on the right foot (exp): to make a good start at something, especially a task or relationship.

On the same page (exp): to be in agreement.

To sum up (pv): to give a brief summary of something.

Close the deal (exp): to make an agreement official.

Gesture (n): a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.

Take (something) on board (exp): to decide to accept or deal with something, such as a suggestion or idea.

Nerve-wracking (adj): something that causes stress or anxiety.


exp = expression

pv = prhasal verb

n = noun

adj = adjective

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